Shakti

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For other uses, see Shakti (disambiguation).
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Shakti
Tripura Sundari2.jpg
Adi Para Shakti Lalita Tripura Sundari seated over Brahma Vishnu Shiva Maheswara and Sadashiva
Spouse(s) Kameswara Shiva
Children Bala Tripura Sundari (9 years old)(sometimes considered as an incarnation of Ashokasundari)

In Hinduism, Shakti (Sanskrit pronunciation: [ˈʃəkt̪ɪ]) (Telugu: శక్తి) (Devanagari: शक्ति; from Sanskrit shak, "to be able"), also spelt as Sakthi or Shakthi, meaning "power" or "empowerment," is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe.[1] Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes referred to as 'The Great Divine Mother' in Hinduism. As the mother she is known as Adi Parashakti or Adishakti. In her avatar as Akshara Mandhapati, her power is her uncontrollable energy. On the earthly plane, Shakti most actively manifests through female embodiment and creativity/fertility, though it is also present in males in its potential, unmanifest form.[2]

Hindus believe that Shakti is both responsible for creation and the agent of all change. Shakti is cosmic existence as well as liberation, its most significant form being the Kundalini Shakti,[3] a mysterious psychospiritual force.[4]

In Shaktism and Shaivism, Shakti is worshipped as the Supreme Being. Shakti embodies the active feminine energy of Shiva and is identified as Tripura Sundari or Parvati.

Evolution[edit]

David Kinsley mentions the "shakti" of Lord Indra's as Sachi (Indrani), meaning power.[5] Indrani is part of a group of seven or eight mother goddesses called the Matrikas (Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Maheshvari, Indrani, Kumari, Varahi and Chamunda and/or Narasimhi), who are considered shaktis of major Hindu gods (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Indra, Skanda, Varaha/Yama and Devi and Narasimha respectively).

The Shakti goddess is also known as Amman (meaning 'mother') in south India, especially in the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh. There are many temples devoted to various incarnations of the Shakti goddess in most of the villages in South India. The rural people believe that Shakti is the protector of the village, the punisher of evil people, the curer of diseases, and the one who gives welfare to the village. They celebrate Shakti Jataras with great interest once a year. Some examples of incarnations are Ganga Ma, Aarti, Kamakshi Ma, Kanakadurga Ma, Mahalakshmi Ma, Meenatchi ma, Manasa Ma, Mariamman, Yellamma, Poleramma, Gangamma and Perantalamma.

The goddess Manasa in a dense jungle landscape with a cobra and a swan.

It is believed that the cosmic grand design is theoretically a triangular structure of equal sides. The three points of the triangle or the "trine structure of macrocosmic system" are occupied by three ultimate manifestations of the trinity: Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. The central point or the ultimate gravitational presence of the trine structure is occupied by "Shakti" which is self-born, and is unable to be created or destroyed by any other existence in the cosmos which motivates the trinity from the ultimate center. This ultimate indestructible gravity known as "Shakti" in its three transformative form is connected to the trinity separately. She is connected to Brahma through her creative motherly form with Satya Guna; to Maheshwara through her destructive elderly form with Tamas Guna; and to Vishnu through her neutral meditating form through her Rajas Guna. Brahma, by the grace of her creative force creates. Maheshwara, by the strength of her destructive force destroys. Vishnu, by the righteousness and unbiased quality of her intellectual force (thinking) judges: what, where, why, when and how is to be created or destroyed.

Shakti/Parvati/Shakti Peethas[edit]

Main article: Shakti Peetha

According to some schools, there are four Adi Shakti Pitha and 51 Shakti centers of worship located in South Asia. They can be found in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Tibet and Pakistan. These are called Shakti Peethas. The list of locations varies. A commonly accepted list of Shakti Peethas and their temple complexes includes:

Other pithas in Maharashtra are:

Hindu Goddess, Saraswati

Adi Parashakti[edit]

Main article: Adi Parashakti

Adi Parashakti, whose material manifestation is Tripura Sundari, is a Hindu concept of the Ultimate Shakti or Mahashakti, the ultimate power inherent in all Creation. This is especially prevalent in the Shakta denomination within Hinduism, which worships the Goddess Devi in all her manifestations. Her human or Shakti swaroop/form was married to Shiva, while her knowledge/gyan swaroop form weds Lord Brahma and wealth/Dhan swaroop form becomes the consort of Lord Vishnu. Parvati gave birth to her first child called Kartikeya.

Bhajans and mantras[edit]

There are many ancient Shakti devotional songs and vibrational chants in the Hindu and Sikh traditions (found in Sarbloh Granth). The recitation of the Sanskrit bij mantra MA is commonly used to call upon the Divine Mother, the Shakti, as well as the Moon.

Kundalini-Shakti-Bhakti Mantra

Adi Shakti, Adi Shakti, Adi Shakti, Namo Namo!
Sarab Shakti, Sarab Shakti, Sarab Shakti, Namo Namo!
Prithum Bhagvati, Prithum Bhagvati, Prithum Bhagvati, Namo Namo!
Kundalini Mata Shakti, Mata Shakti, Namo Namo!

Translation:

Primal Shakti, I bow to Thee!
All-Encompassing Shakti, I bow to Thee!
That through which Divine Creates, I bow to Thee!
Creative Power of the Kundalini, Mother of all Mother Power, To Thee I Bow![6]

"Merge in the Maha Shakti. This is enough to take away your misfortune. This will carve out of you a woman. Woman needs her own Shakti, not anybody else will do it... When a woman chants the Kundalini Bhakti mantra, God clears the way. This is not a religion, it is a reality. Woman is not born to suffer, and woman needs her own power."

"When India and Indian women knew this mantra, it dwelt in the land of milk and honey."

~ Yogi Bhajan (Harbhajan Singh)[7]

Shaktism[edit]

Sri Guru Amritananda Natha Saraswati, performing the Navavarana Puja, an important ritual in Srividya Tantric Shaktism, at the Sahasrakshi Meru Temple at Devipuram, Andhra Pradesh, India.

Shaktism regards Devi (lit., "the Goddess") as the Supreme Brahman itself with all other forms of divinity considered to be merely Her diverse manifestations. In the details of its philosophy and practice, Shaktism resembles Saivism. However, Shaktas (Sanskrit: Śakta, शक्त), practitioners of Shaktism, focus most or all worship on Shakti, as the dynamic feminine aspect of the Supreme Divine. Shiva, the masculine aspect of divinity, is considered solely transcendent, and Shiva's worship is usually secondary.[8]

From Devi-Mahatmya:

By you this universe is borne, By you this world is created, Oh Devi, by you it is protected.[9]

From Shaktisangama Tantra:

Woman is the creator of the universe, the universe is her form; woman is the foundation of the world, she is the true form of the body.

In woman is the form of all things, of all that lives and moves in the world. There is no jewel rarer than woman, no condition superior to that of a woman.[citation needed]

Smarta Advaita[edit]

In the Smarta Advaita sect of Hinduism, Shakti is considered to be one of five equal bona fide personal forms of God in the panchadeva system advocated by Adi Shankara.[10]

Shakti force: Devi Prakriti[edit]

Devi prakriti (a shakti) in the context of shaktis as forces unifies kundalini, kriya, ichha, para, jnana, and mantrika shaktis. Each is in a chakra.

Ichha-shakti[edit]

Ichha-shakti is a Sanskrit term translating to "will-power". It is used as a technical subdivision of Shakti in Shaktism.

Helena Petrona Blavatsky in her The Secret Doctrine (1888) also introduces the concept of "Ichha Shakti":

"Its most ordinary manifestation is the generation of certain nerve currents which set in motion such muscles as are required for the accomplishment of the desired object."[11]

Mantrika shakti[edit]

Mantrika shakti, a Sanskrit term, is 'the force or power of letters, speech, or music,' i.e. Word (e.g. Brahman / Nāda / Pranava / Om, etc.) 'Mantrika' refers to mantras (short religious chants) but may mean something besides a Shakti. Sage Patanjali has said that a person who always speaks the truth will possess the power of materializing his words. The words of a perfected being is binding to the whole cosmos.[12]

Goddess warns kamsa[edit]

A frightened Kamsa (left) looks up to the goddess, as she issues the warning.

Kamsa was told, in a prophecy, that the eighth child of Devaki would kill him. Hearing it, he wanted to kill Devaki, but Vasudev saved her life by promising Kamsa that he (Vasudev) himself would give Devki's all children to Kamsa. Vasudev was such a great Gentleman that even Kamsa believed him and spared Devki because she herself is not a threat to him. In the confines of prison, Devaki repeatedly conceived and cruel Kamsa murdered the first six children. Just before the birth of seventh child, Lord Vishnu summoned Goddess Yogmaya, an eight-handed woman holding different weapons in her hands and wearing different colored garments. Shri Hari or bhagwan Vishnu asked her to transfer the embryo of Shesh Naag from Devaki to Vasudeva's another wife Rohini in Gokul. This child was named Balram, Shri Krishna's elder brother. Whereas, The Lord shri Hari-Vishnu Himself, was soon to appear as the eighth son of Devaki, ordered Yogamaya (who, shall be known with different names by her devotees such as Durga, Bhadrakali, Narayani, Chandika, Vaishnavi, Sharda, Ishaani, Vijaya, Chin Bhavani, Amba and Ambika) to take birth from the womb of Ma Yashoda. As according to Shri Hari-Vishnu's orders, Yogmaya transferred Shesha from the womb of Devaki to the womb of Rohini. Facilitating God Vishnu's descent or avatar, Yogmaya (as the controller of the darkness and ignorance) had put the guards of Kamsa to sleep or a state of trance. At this time, Vasudev, on obeying Shri Hari's order took BalKrishna to Nand Yashoda's house, bringing back Baby girl, Durga, who is incarnation of Yogmaya. Presuming this baby as Devki's eighth child, Kansa was about to kill her by crashing her down on the ground but the girl slipped out of his hands. Taking her cosmic form, eight handed Durga warned Kansa "The Eighth child who shall kill you, has been born. He is in Gokul!"

Goddess Kali saves Jadabharata[edit]

A leader of dacoits who came from a shudra family wanted to worship the goddess Bhadra Kali by offering her in sacrifice a dull man, who is considered no better than an animal. The leader of the dacoits captured a man-animal for sacrifice, but he escaped, and the leader ordered his followers to find him. They ran in different directions but could not find him. Wandering here and there in the middle of the night, covered by dense darkness, they came to a paddy field where they saw the exalted son of the Angira family [Jada Bharata], who was sitting in an elevated place guarding the field against the attacks of deer and wild pigs. The followers and servants of the dacoit chief considered Jada Bharata to possess qualities quite suitable for a man-animal, and they decided that he was a perfect choice for sacrifice. Their faces bright with happiness, they bound him with ropes and brought him to the temple of the goddess Kali. Jada Bharata appeared deaf and dumb, yet he was the most intelligent man in the world. Nonetheless, being completely surrendered unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he remained in that condition and did not protest being brought before the deity for slaughter. After this, all the thieves, according to their imaginative ritual for killing animalistic men, bathed Jada Bharata, dressed him in new clothes, decorated him with ornaments befitting an animal, smeared his body with scented oils and decorated him with tilaka, sandalwood pulp and garlands. They fed him sumptuously and then brought him before the goddess Kali, offering her incense, lamps, garlands, parched grain, newly grown twigs, sprouts, fruits and flowers. In this way they worshiped the deity before killing the man-animal, and they vibrated songs and prayers and played drums and bugles. Jada Bharata was then made to sit down before the deity. At this time, one of the thieves, acting as the chief priest, was ready to offer the blood of Jada Bharata, whom they imagined to be an animal-man, to the goddess Kali to drink as a liquor. He therefore took up a very fearsome sword, which was very sharp and, consecrating it by the mantra of Bhadra Kali, raised it to kill Jada Bharata. All the rogues and thieves who had made arrangements for the worship of goddess Kali were low minded and bound to the modes of passion and ignorance. They were overpowered by the desire to become very rich; therefore they had the audacity to disobey the injunctions of the Vedas, so much so that they were prepared to kill Jada Bharata, a self-realized soul born in a brahmana family. Due to their envy, these dacoits brought him before the goddess Kali for sacrifice. Such people are always addicted to envious activities, and therefore they dared to try to kill Jada Bharata. Jada Bharata was the best friend of all living entities. He was no one's enemy, and he was always absorbed in meditation on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He was born of a good brahmana father, and killing him was forbidden, even though he might have been an enemy or aggressive person. In any case, there was no reason to kill Jada Bharata, and the goddess Kali could not bear this. She could immediately understand that these sinful dacoits were about to kill a great devotee of the Lord. Suddenly the deity's body burst asunder, and the goddess Kali personally emerged from it in a body burning with intense and intolerable effulgence. Intolerant of the offenses committed, the infuriated goddess Kali flashed her eyes and displayed her fierce, curved teeth. Her reddish eyes glowed, and she displayed her fearsome features. She assumed a frightening body, as if she were prepared to destroy the entire creation. Leaping violently from the altar, she immediately decapitated all the rogues and thieves with the very sword with which they had intended to kill Jada Bharata.

Standard representation[edit]

The yupiu Shakti has a unicode representation of U+262C () on the miscellaneous symbols table. This symbol is also known as the khanda in Sikhism.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Sacred Sanskrit words, p.111
  2. ^ Tiwari, Path of Practice, p. 55
  3. ^ The Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga, p.270
  4. ^ The Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga, p.162
  5. ^ Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Tradition by David Kinsley page 17, minor vedic Goddesses
  6. ^ Yogi Bhajan as quoted in the Conscious Pregnancy Yoga Teacher's Manual by Tarn Tarn Kaur, Espanola, New Mexico p. 79
  7. ^ Yogi Bhajan as quoted in the Conscious Pregnancy Yoga Teacher's Manual by Tarn Tarn Kaur, Espanola, New Mexico
  8. ^ Subramuniyaswami, p. 1211.
  9. ^ Klostermaier, Klaus K. (1989). A Survey of Hinduism. NY, NY: State University of New York. pp. 261 (fn 1 p 473). 
  10. ^ http://www.himalayanacademy.com/resources/books/dws/dws_mandala-02.html
  11. ^ Helena Petrona Blavatsky (1893 - 1897), The Secret Doctrine, London Theosophical Pub. House, 1893-97, ISBN 0-900588-74-8. p 292 - 293.
  12. ^ Helena Petrona Blavatsky (1893 - 1897), The Secret Doctrine, London Theosophical Pub. House, 1893-97, ISBN 0-900588-74-8

Further reading[edit]

  • Shakti and Shakta, by John Woodroffe, Published by Forgotten Books, 1910. ISBN 1-60620-145-X.
  • Hymns to the Goddess, Translated by John George Woodroffe, Ellen Elizabeth (Grimson) Woodroffe, Published by Forgotten Books, 1952 (org 1913). ISBN 1-60620-146-8.
  • Hymn to Kali: Karpuradi Stotra, by Sir John Woodroffe. Published by Forgotten Books. 1922. ISBN 1-60620-147-6.
  • McDaniel, June (2004). Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls: Popular Goddess Worship in West Bengal. New York: Oxford University Press. 
  • Datta, Reema and Lowitz, Lisa. Sacred Sanskrit Words, Stonebridge Press, Berkeley, 2005.
  • Feuerstein, Georg. The Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga, Shambhala Publications, Boston, 2000
  • Shaw, Miranda. Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1994
  • Tiwari, Bri. Maya. The Path of Practice: A Woman's Book of Ayurvedic Healing, Motilal Banarsidass Press, 2002
  • Shakti: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Women’s Empowerment in India/edited by Ranjana Harish and V. Bharathi Harishankar. New Delhi, Rawat, 2003, ISBN 81-7033-793-3.

External links[edit]